Trump Isn't the Only Prez to Be Called 'Crazy'

Psychological evaluations of other presidents weren't exactly glowing
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2019 5:15 PM CDT
In this June 22, 1994 file photo, President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton wait to address a group of young Democratic supporters known as the Saxophone Club in Washington.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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(Newser) – President Trump is often called a narcissist—and experts have debated that diagnosis—but many other presidents weren't exactly paragons of mental well-being, the BBC reports. Presidents from John Adams to Theodore Roosevelt to Bill Clinton have been called mentally ill, and that's not just on the campaign trail. "The pressures of such a job can trigger issues in someone that have been latent," says Jonathan Davidson, who led a 2006 Duke University study into the psychological health of presidents. "Being president is extremely stressful and nobody has unlimited capacity to take it forever and ever." That study found Wilson and James Madison probably had depression, while Roosevelt and Adams had bipolar disorder. For more:

  • Calvin Coolidge and Franklin Pierce likely suffered from major depressive orders that crippled their presidencies after their sons died. Pierce seemed to let America drift into civil war, while Coolidge, who had become erratic and temperamental, dismissed economic warning signs before the 1929 Wall Street Crash.
  • Abraham Lincoln suffered from melancholy throughout his life and fell into a depression in 1841 after breaking up with fiancee Mary Todd, whom he later married. A friend even took knives and razors out of Lincoln's room.
  • A 2012 study found that Andrew Jackson, Lyndon Johnson, and Clinton all had psychopathic traits. "Certain psychopathic traits may be like a double-edged sword," lead author Scott Lilienfeld said in a press release. "Fearless dominance, for example, may contribute to reckless criminality and violence, or to skillful leadership in the face of a crisis."
  • Among those three, LBJ had the Texas-sized ego. He openly joked about stealing his 1948 Senate election and humiliated aides by urinating or defecating while giving dictation. But his boldest move—lying about the Gulf of Tonkin skirmish in order to trigger the Vietnam war—led to his political undoing.
  • Richard Nixon long took prescription drugs for depression and anxiety, and washed down sleeping pills with alcohol. Henry Kissinger once refused to let him take an important call because, Kissinger said, the president was "loaded."
  • So is Trump ill? Over 60,000 mental health professionals have signed a petition saying so, per Psychology Today, but Nassir Ghaemi, a Tufts University psychiatry professor, says he's more manic. "He's very impulsive with spending, sexually impulsive, he can't concentrate," per Ghaemi. "His traits were most beneficial for him during the presidential campaign, where he was extremely creative."
(Read more mental health stories.)

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